Moving Again & The City of Bethel

I think it is only right that Shechem be executed, if he wasn’t then others would think it is okay to rape.  But I don’t know why they killed everyone.

“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 

And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods, which were in their hand, and all their earrings, which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak, which was by Shechem. 

And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob (Gen 35:1-5).

The Church of the Nativity is on the site in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ is thought to have been born.
Bethlehem has been the subject of countless carols and Nativity plays, but the real story of the little town is far more complex. Bethlehem had a long history even before it became known as the site of Jesus Christ’s birth. Now it sits at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

They arrived in Luz, still a part of Canaan, and they buried Rebekah’s nurse.  And God appeared to Jacob and reminded him, Thy name shall not be called anymore Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. 

He also told him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.  And the land I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land [Gen 35:11″] (Gen 35:10-12).

“After God left Jacob and his group headed for Ephrath, but Rachel was pregnant and went into labor pains.  Rachael died but the baby lived.  She had named him Ben-Oni, but Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, and she was buried in Bethleham” (Gen 35:18-19). 

The 12 sons of Jacob, as I mentioned before, were: Reuben (his first), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Benjamin (his last).  These are the 12 tribes of the Israelites.

They then went past the tower of Edar and dwelt there awhile.  At this time, Rueben went and slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, and Jacob found out about it. 

Isaac, at the age of 180 years died and was buried by Esau and Jacob.

Remember that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, but I will continue to call him Jacob so you will not forget how he became Israel and also so you, or I, do not confuse Israel with Isaac.

1 Its not known whether God was there in physical form or not, this had happened with Abraham too (Gen 17:22), but God later tells Moses that you can’t see His face and live (Ex 33:20-23). 

I’ve never seen God, but I know when He’s standing right there in front of me, there is no doubt.  It’s nothing like feeling someone’s presence in the room. 

When God is with you there is no mistaken that He’s there, you can see Him without seeing Him.

The City of Bethel

The name Bethel comes from the Hebrew beth, meaning house, and el, meaning God. Bethel means House of God. Numerous events of Bible History occurred there, including God’s appearance to Abraham and Jacob, and for some time it was the place where the Ark of The Covenant, containing The Ten Commandments, was housed.

The holy site of Bethel played an important role in the lives of Abraham and Jacob/Israel, as well as in later Israelite history.

Abraham built an altar between Bethel and Ai, and Jacob, en route to Haran while fleeing from Esau, experienced a vivid dream at Bethel.

Before moving on, he set up a commemorative stone at the spot. In addition to serving as places of remembrance, such stones occasionally marked burial sites.

Biblical scholars have long debated’s Bethel’s precise location. Most have placed it at modern Tell Beitin, 8 miles (13 km) north of Jerusalem, but el Bireh, a few miles farther south, has also been suggested.

Clearly Bethel was located within the area north of Jerusalem now referred to as the West Bank.

Tell Beitin, which shows signs of occupation beginning with the Chalcolithic period was continuously occupied during the Middle Bronze Ages I and II, until the city was destroyed around 1550 B.C.

A Late Bronze Age city located on the same site, dating from the 14th century B.C., boasted high-quality houses, streets with flagstone pavements, and sewers.

There is evidence of its destruction at the end of the Bronze Age, and a later, Iron Age I settlement the location reflects an impoverished community.

The Ancient Hebrew walled city of Beit El (Bethel) The ancient city of Beit El (Bethel) has a history closer to the biblical forefathers of the Jewish and Lost Israelites than any other city in the Land of Israel.

This city continued to exist through the Iron Age, but no remains of Jeroboam’s temple – which the Babylonian army destroyed in 586 B.C. – have been found here.

According to the Onomasticon, written by Eusebius (269—339 A.D.) and revised by Jerome (345-419 A.D.), Bethel was located at the twelfth Roman milestone on the east­ern side of the road leading north to Neapolis (called Shechem in the Ofrf Testament; modern Nablus).

In this ancient manuscript Tell Beitin is described as being located at the fourteenth milestone, indicating that, if Eusebius’s information was correct, it could not have been Bethel.

Bethel may, then, have been situated a little to the south, at mod­ern el Bireh, near the city of Ramallah. No excavation has been done at el Bireh, a town currently occupied by Palestinians.

During the period of Israel’s monarchy, Bethel (“house of God”) came to be em­broiled in a controversy.

Associations with its sacred history and monuments led the people to transform into a center of idol­atrous worship.

Bethel is located about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Archaeologists agree that there was a continuous occupation of the area from before 2,000 BC. Today, Bethel is known as Beitin. It is first mentioned in Genesis 12 where Abraham built an altar. Jacob had his dream of a ladder connecting heaven and earth in Bethel. The Ark of the Covenant resided in Bethel for a period of time in the Judges and it was a city on the priestly circuit of Samuel. When Israel divided into two kingdoms, Bethel became one of the worship centers for the Northern 10 Tribes. Jeroboam set up a golden calf in Dan and another in Bethel in an attempt prevent Temple worship in Jerusalem. Bethel was defeated by the Assyrians, along with the rest of the Northern Kingdom, in 721 BC

Jeroboam I, for example, took advantage of the holy traditions associated with Bethel and, against God’s will, set up a shrine there to serve as an alternative worship site to Solomon’s temple.

As a re­sult the prophets severely censured worship at Bethel. Hosea went so far as to refer to Bethel as Beth Avert, a dis­paraging pun meaning “house of wicked­ness.”

Such texts indicate that there was a debate during ancient times over wheth­er Bethel was a sacred site or a center of’ apostasy. 

The name Bethel was at the center of debate in another context. Bethel appears as a god’s name in a 7th century B.C. Assyrian treaty and in some texts from Ele­phantine, located in southern Egypt.

Based upon these discoveries, some scholars have argued that the word Bethel is used in the Old Testament as a divine name rather than as a place-name.

Most interpreters remain unconvinced of the validity of this theory, since it appears quite evident that the Bibli­cal Bethel was a specific place.

In fact certain Biblical texts seem to attest that Bethel in its early days was a city formerly known as Luz, but renamed by Jacob.